The first impression you make may have nothing to do with the words that come out of your mouth. Scientists are discovering that our bodies may be making snap judgements and sending messages to our brains before we even speak. From the temperature in a room to the way we’re seated, our physical world can shape what we think and influence our opinions of each other.
1. If you want to seem: Thoughtful
Have you arranged a meeting with a client whose opinion you want to sway? Hit a coffee shop first. Handing someone a hot drink that they can hold in their hands can influence their view of you. In tests when subjects warmed up their hands with a hot cup of coffee before meeting someone new, they actually had a more caring and thoughtful impression of them.
2. If you want to seem: Powerful
Running a presentation and want attendees to take your findings more seriously? Offer handouts on heavy clipboards. According to a study by University of Amsterdam scientists, published in Psychological Science, the audience just may think better of you. When subjects held a weighty object in their hands, they made judgements of higher monetary value, were fairer in decision-making, and even gave more thoughtful answers.
Author Nils Jostmann said: “These findings suggest that, much as weight makes people invest more physical effort in dealing with concrete objects, it also makes people invest more cognitive effort in dealing with abstract issues.”
3. If you want to seem: Trustworthy
Your scruples may come down to how you sit, according to a series of business school studies conducted by researchers from Columbia, Harvard, Berkeley, Northwestern and MIT. The studies explored the nature of dishonesty.
Their results were surprising: how you sit at your desk just may influence your judgement. Subjects who sat at vast desks were more likely to cheat on tasks than those in smaller (think: cubicle-sized) workspaces. In another example, those who sat in wide, open chairs were more likely to act recklessly than those in smaller, tighter quarters.
The study authors conclude that your unconscious posture has a lot more to do with your thought process about boundaries than previously thought.